Understanding expectations of 1st year medical students on primary care clinical placements
Clinical experience in a primary care setting is an important learning tool in the new University of Wollongong medical programme. In addition to hospital clinical placements, year 1 students are also exposed to early primary care settings where their experiences, under the guidance of a General Practitioner (GP) preceptor, can be broadly categorised under four main headings: communication, physical examination, procedures, clinical reasoning. The aim of our study was to explore these experiences from the perspectives of both the medical students and their preceptors. Data was collected from preceptor and student surveys that invited them to state their expectations of their primary care clinical placements. Questions in the clinical placement surveys were designed to reflect the primary care placement objectives as stated in the Year 1 placement handbook (Hudson 2011), which focused on communication and physical examination objectives, to a greater extent than procedure and clinical reasoning skills. The results of these surveys allowed us to determine whether both students and preceptors had the same expectations about their primary care clinical placements. Survey results revealed that the there was a mismatch between the expectations of both students and preceptors with regard to undertaking procedures and developing clinical reasoning skills. Unlike preceptors, medical students placed high importance on these activities. Student success on primary care placement can be achieved through understanding student and preceptor expectations as it allows medical faculties to improve the communication of the curriculum to the key participants in these placements.